The mission of Vancouver Native Housing Society is to provide safe, secure, affordable housing for Aboriginal individuals and families living in the urban setting.
Vancouver Native Housing Society is a registered charity and is governed by an all Aboriginal Board of Directors. VNHS employs approximately 50 people.
VNHS was founded in 1984 and manages a portfolio of 17 buildings with a total of 706 units. The Society currently houses approximately 8% of the urban Aboriginal population.
We work in partnership with federal and provincial government agencies to achieve affordability for individuals and families with low incomes. In 1984 the primary funding agency was the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), which provided subsidies through the Urban Native Housing Program. In 1997 the responsibility for funding all housing programs was transferred to BC Housing; all developments and acquisitions after 1997 were done in partnership with this provincial housing agency. In 2013, BC Housing transferred responsibility for administration of VNHS housing subsidies to the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA).
Although our original and ongoing mandate is to focus on the housing needs of the urban Aboriginal community we have expanded our operations to include housing solutions for seniors, youth, women at risk, persons living with mental illness, as well as those who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. Recognizing that providing housing alone is not enough, some VNHS buildings include on-site support services; in all of our housing developments we strive to help tenants connect to available resources in the community when needed.
In recent years the Society has embraced the social enterprise model. In the face of declining government financial support, we work with tenants and the community at large to build economic and individual capacity by adopting an entrepreneurial approach. Two such ventures are the Urban Aboriginal Art Gallery and Skwachays Lodge, both established in 2012.